Pak-Austria Fachhochschule: One More Step Toward Building Knowledge Economy in Pakistan

Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) campus is ready to open in Haripur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It represents one more step toward building Pakistan's knowledge economy and growing high-value technology-based exports. Pakistan is collaborating with several countries, including the United States and China, to build up high-skills education capacity in the country. Early progress is confirmed by a Nature magazine report that Pakistan's scientific output is growing at the fastest rate in the world. Pakistan's high-tech exports are relatively low but surging by double digits, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST) Campus, Haripur, Pakistan


21st Century Workforce:

Pakistan's economy is rapidly transforming from traditional agriculture to modern business and industry.  Accelerating penetration of smartphones, personal computers, flat screens, mobile broadband, indoor plumbing, motorized vehicles, home appliances, air-conditioners, tractors, tube-wells, advanced construction machines and  solar and other technology-based products and services requires a highly skilled workforce to design, manufacture, market, sell, operate and service.

Building this new highly skilled workforce must begin with designing curricula and facilities. It also demands a new crop of trainers and educators and closer collaboration between academia and industry.

PAF-IAST:

PAF-IAST aspires to be a leader in delivering effective education for the 21st century workforce. Currently, only 18% of Pakistanis and 19% of Indians under the age of 24 have the skills required for 21st century jobs, according to a United Nations and Business Coalition for Education study. It's the percentage of all school age children on track to complete secondary AND reach the learning benchmarks spelled out  by National Achievement Test (NAT) 2016 for Pakistan  and NCERT 2017 for India.

Built in collaboration with the Austrian government, Pak-Austria Fachhochschule (PAF-IAST), Haripur will offer specialized courses in artificial intelligence, railway engineering, mining, agriculture, food technologies and other fields. “Set in middle of the campus is natural lake, fed by the springs of surrounding mountains. The campus is just a 3-kilometer drive from the Hazara Motorway,” according to PAF-IAST.

NUTech:

National University of Technology (NUTech), an institution similar to PAF-IAST and chartered institution of higher learning, was launched in Islamabad in 2018.

NUTech will not only produce hands-on engineers and scientists but it will also serve as an umbrella organization for training skilled technicians and tradespeople to build, service and maintain advanced technology-based plant and equipment.

NUTech will work with a national network of technical and vocational training institutes to produce skilled workers.  It will include representatives of business and industry in design of curricula to ensure these workers meet the needs of the industry.

National University of Technology (NUTech) Campus in Islamanad

Specialized Institutions:

Pakistan Air Force's Air University, established in 2002, is an example of a specialized institution aimed at developing human capital in the aviation sector.

Development of a new advanced fighter is a wide-ranging effort that will encompass building human capital in a variety of fields including material science, physics, electronics, computer science, computer software, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, avionics, weapons design, etc.

Air University has added a new campus in Kamra Aviation City. The university already offers bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees in several subjects. Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman told Quwa Defense News that the campus will “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenization programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”

Higher Education in Pakistan:

There are over 3 million students enrolled in grades 13 through 16 in Pakistan's 1,086 degree colleges and 161 universities, according to Pakistan Higher Education Commission report for 2013-14.  The 3 million enrollment is 15% of the 20 million Pakistanis in the eligible age group of 18-24 years.  In addition, there are over 255,000 Pakistanis enrolled in vocational training schools, according to Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA).

Graduation Day at NED Engineering University For 1300 Graduates in 2013
Pakistani universities have been producing over half a million graduates, including over 10,000 IT graduates, every year since 2010, according to HEC data. The number of university graduates in Pakistan increased from 380,773 in 2005-6 to 493,993 in 2008-09. This figure is growing with rising enrollment and contributing to Pakistan's growing human capital.

Source: UNESCO's Global Education Digest 2009



Higher education in Pakistan has come a long way since its independence in 1947 when there was only one university, the University of Punjab. By 1997, the number of universities had risen to 35, of which 3 were federally administered and 22 were under the provincial governments, with a combined enrollment of 71,819 students. A big spending boost by President Pervez Musharraf helped establish 51 new universities and awarding institutions during 2002-2008. This helped triple university enrollment from 135,000 in 2003 to about 400,000 in 2008, according to Dr. Ata ur Rehman who led the charge for expanding higher education during Musharraf years. There are 161 universities with 1.5 million students enrolled in Pakistan as of 2014. As of 2019, there are 174 universities in the country.



Former Chairman of HEC summed up the country's higher education progress well in a piece he wrote for The News in 2012: "Pakistan has achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy. If this momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population".

Summary:

Pakistan is expanding science and technology education with institutions like PAF-IAST and NUTech. These represent progress toward building Pakistan's knowledge economy and grow high-value technology-based exports. Pakistan is collaborating with several countries, including the United States and China, to build up high-skills education capacity in the country. Early progress is confirmed by a Nature magazine report that Pakistan's scientific output is growing at the fastest rate in the world. Pakistan's high-tech exports are relatively low but surging by double digits, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Here's an introductory video about Pak-Austria Fachhochschule Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (PAF-IAST) Pakistan:
https://youtu.be/IJDjDisjy_c




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Artificial Intelligence Development at NED Engineering University

Pakistan's Computer Services Exports Surging

Pakistan's Scientific Output Growth Fastest in the World

How Grim is the State of Social Sector in Pakistan?

10 Pakistan Universities Among Top 300 in Asia

Pakistan's Growing Human Capital

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Education Attainment in South Asia

Dr. Ata ur Rehman Defends HEC Reforms

Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan

Business Education in Pakistan

Armed Drones Outrage and Inspire Young Pakistanis

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Fitch has warned of decline in remittances amid the #Coronavirus shock. But #remittances have been robust in #Pakistan and Bangladesh. ADB says 14% of households in #Bangladesh, 8% in #Philippines, 4% in Pakistan and 2% in #India receive remittance income. https://www.fitchratings.com/research/sovereigns/apac-remittances-to-decline-amid-coronavirus-shock-08-09-2020

Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-08 September 2020: The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent impact on the oil market are having a considerable effect on migrant workers and are likely to supress remittance flows in the APAC region, Fitch Ratings says in a special report. We expect flows to weaken in the coming quarters, even though recent amounts have been surprisingly robust in some countries due to temporary factors. Declining remittances in economies that are dependent on them may affect sovereign ratings through pressures on external finances and economic growth.

Demand for migrant labour has provided an important and stable source of foreign-currency remittance flows for a number of APAC sovereigns, including Bangladesh (6.0% of GDP), Pakistan (7.9%), Sri Lanka (8.0%) and the Philippines (8.4%). India is the largest recipient of remittances globally but they account for a small share of GDP at 2.9%. Remittance flows have helped keep current account deficits contained by offsetting large trade deficits. Indeed, without remittances the Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh would all have large current account deficits of between 7%-10% of GDP.

Remittances in APAC also provide economic benefits to recipient countries. First, they support domestic consumption by providing an additional income source to households. According to the Asian Development Bank, about 14% of households in Bangladesh receive remittance income, 8% in the Philippines, 4% in Pakistan and 2% in India. Second, job opportunities for migrant workers relieve slack in domestic job markets.

Remittance flows in APAC were surprisingly mixed in the second quarter of 2020. Monthly data show a considerable and broad decline in remittances during April and May, as Fitch expected, but a recovery in June and July. The rebound in flows was particularly robust in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where flows broke records in both June and July. Sri Lanka and the Philippines also saw an improvement in remittance flows in June, but much more modest.

Anecdotal evidence points to temporary factors for the increase in recorded remittances in the recent period. These include migrant workers transferring their savings in preparation to return home, the impact of lockdown restrictions on transferring funds and a shift to formal remittance channels, which are picked up in the official data.
Fitch forecasts a 12% decline across the region in the second half of the year as the temporary support factors fade.

The deterioration in remittance inflows is likely to widen current account deficits, contributing to higher external financing needs. For countries with fragile external finances, such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the shock to remittances could exacerbate existing challenges. Lower oil prices and subdued import demand, however, are likely to soften the aggregate impact on external balances.

Remittances typically provide a countercyclical buffer for economic activity and vulnerable households. In domestic economic shocks, family members working abroad can increase remittances to help mitigate the impact of sluggish domestic activity. The pandemic, however, represents a much more synchronised global economic shock than previous downturns. This limits the potential support of the remittance channel.

Lower remittance flows could affect public finances through two channels: lower revenue collection from weaker consumption and higher social spending to support remittance-dependent households as well as returning migrant workers. Many countries in the region already have limited fiscal space to address the current coronavirus shock and the decline in remittances could exacerbate current challenges.

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